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When I am in Milwaukee, I always enjoy all the activities available in the summer, most of the them free or at minimal cost. Now that I am home, I realize that there are many things to do in LA, many of them free or at minimal cost. The great thing about LA is that these activities, although more numerous in the summer months, are also available all year round. So, I began to wonder. Why don't I go to all these concerts, museums, art shows and galleries? Today I realized the difference between Milwaukee and LA. I can decide at the last minute that I want to go to something and I will be able to get there in much less than a half hour and I will be able to find parking without much hassle. In LA, I have to plan ahead. Something I might want to see may be in Orange County which is like a whole world away. If it isn't happening in my neighborhood, I have to take into account that the freeway may be clogged and so instead of it taking 30 minutes to get somewhere, it may take over an hour. Then, once we are there, the cost of parking in a lot is very high and there is seldom parking on the street.

I love living in LA. I love that it is a place where something is always happening all year round. But that doesn't do me much good if I keep away from those happenings because they are inconvenient. Now I understand why Milwaukee in the summer is so attractive to me besides the obvious - being with family. Everything is convenient and can be done on the spur of the moment. But, I always remember that Milwaukee has winter.
This morning we had the best free breakfast we have had on this trip. This Hampton Inn had cheese omelets, sausage, potatoes, waffles, plus the usual fruit, yogurt, sweet rolls etc. My only complaint was that they didn’t have any cereal that wasn’t sweetened but I had some in the car so I was able to have my usual breakfast. We are getting later starts these days, today leaving again just before 9:00. Driving through Denver we did encounter some traffic but soon we were on the road and into the gorgeous Rockies.

We realized that we needed gas and we weren’t sure how far the next gas station was so we stopped to fill up. As we were leaving, we happened upon a small herd of deer right next to the road. I love when this happens. I took some pictures and we watched them for a while and then we left. I hoped that they didn’t decide to go on the road or into the interstate. There are signs all along the interstate warning of animals that might be in the road. However, the speed limit is 75 so it would be very difficult to stop in time as all the cars and trucks are moving swiftly.

Driving through the mountains is always a joy and as I mentioned before, I always feel a part of the whole scheme of things even when driving on the interstate as I go through such beauty. When it was time for lunch, we stopped at Rifle, Colorado. I took some pictures because this is truly a Western city that lives up to its name. We ate at a restaurant that had stuffed animals throughout – not the cute fuzzy kind but the ones that are hunted. Bonnie took my picture and put it on Facebook. It looks like the bear is going to attack me. It was a male bear. We managed to eat and walk around the town a bit and then got back on the road.

Once we entered Utah, we were now out of the green forest mountains and instead saw the varied colored buttes. It is also beautiful. It was very hot. The temperature reached 103. The ride took longer than I thought because through the mountains, the speed limit was lower and once we got into Utah, the roads were, as the signs said, damaged so I couldn’t drive as fast. But it was a nice ride and we arrived at the Best Western in Richfield, Utah around 5:15. We were really surprised at how nice our room is. We did get one on the first floor as I had requested since they had no elevators. The room isn’t fancy but it is fairly new. The mattress feels comfortable. We have a microwave and a refrigerator. There is even a ceiling fan.

We drove through the little town which is much bigger than we thought. There is both a Kmart and a Wal-Mart. It looks like the town is growing rather than dying as so many small towns look today. We went to a restaurant near the hotel. I thought I wanted a steak but I got a sandwich. The food was excellent, the best we have had on this leg of the trip. Speaking of food, I never had as great food in Milwaukee as I did this time. They have certainly developed wonderful restaurants.

Tomorrow we are going to Las Vegas and then we will be home on Sunday. After I get home, I will post all my pictures. This will be the last journal for this trip. Although I had a wonderful time, I am ready to go home. Sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow will be nice. My granddaughter is coming to visit a week from today and that always feels like I am on vacation. Bonnie says she gives me a week or maybe two after the visit and I will be itching to go again. Maybe so. We’ll see.
We are now in beautiful Colorado in a suburb outside of Denver. Colorado is one of our favorite states. Nebraska is just above Texas as one of our least favorite states. None of the food we ate there was particularly good and many places didn’t look as clean as we would have liked. And it is a rather boring state – except for the Pony Express Station that we visited today.

I awoke a little later today and we didn’t leave until 8:50 AM. We decided to see if there were any signs of interest along the way and then we would stop. Our goal was to reach Denver which would mean that we would go through the gorgeous Rockies tomorrow. The weather was pretty nice – humid but not hot with temperatures in the low 80s when we left. At breakfast, I was talking to a man and woman, probably around my children’s age, who live in Chicago. They were on their way home. He told me that he loved Wisconsin. One year they drove to Canada and came back through Wisconsin. He told his family that there was no need to go to Canada. Wisconsin was even more beautiful. Then he said he especially loved ---------- I was expecting him to say the northern woods --------- southern Wisconsin and driving through the miles of farmland. Each to his own, I thought, as he told me his kids thought he was nuts. But as I was driving through this part of Nebraska, I thought it did look nice.

We stopped for gas and I took a picture of a sign at the gas station which I am sure was put there just for me. “Patience – Wait For It.” As everyone knows, I am known for my patience. Many years ago a student gave me a tile with a picture of a monk who was praying. He said – “God, give me patience and I want it right now.” Both the student and I were not the most patient people.

As we were driving along, we saw a sign saying that an original pony express station was right there in Gothenburg, Nebraska so off the Interstate we went. Sure enough, there was the station and a really cool museum. They gave us free cookies and I bought Bonnie a magnetic bookmark. I have one that I love and I have been looking for one for her because they are terrific. In all the places we have been this trip, the pony express station was the only place where I found one. I took a number of pictures – one of a buffalo coat – one of an old typewriter – and many of old fishing lures especially for Bonnie’s sister. The museum has items all which were donated by people who lived in Gothenburg. We actually found this really interesting.

And that was last interesting thing we saw in Nebraska. We ate at a truck stop which blows the notion that all truck stops have good food and clean bathrooms. We hit a few scattered showers but nothing that slowed us down. The flat farm land was getting boring and, worse of all, I was developing an earache or gland ache and I felt very tired. So, I stopped at a beautiful rest stop – now we were in Colorado where everything looks beautiful - and Bonnie took over driving. I promptly dozed and when I awoke, we were about 25 miles outside of Denver. It was time to find a place to spend the night.

We didn’t have a reservation because I couldn’t find a hotel listed on our highway. We ended up at the Hampton Inn and it almost feels like home because we have stayed in many of them. And there were cookies out for us. I have felt like Chinese food for many days so I asked at the desk for the best Chinese restaurant. We were directed to Pei Wei Asian Diner which is a very casual P.F. Chang. I didn’t know that P.F. Chang had this type of restaurant but Bonnie looked it up and there is one in Pasadena. We enjoyed our meal although Bonnie’s was very hot. I found that I like Chai Tea.

It is beautiful out. The humidity here is 47% and I love it. We do have our plans for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow we are going to Richfield, Utah which is in the mountains and we are staying at a Best Western. We are paying for tonight’s stay and we will pay for tomorrow night as well. However, at the Best Western, because I have now had two stays within this period of time, I will get a voucher for a free room some other time. When looking at the map, we realized that our next stay should be Vegas. Bonnie emailed her concierge and we have a free night at the Aria with a $100 food credit. It will be a free stay for me since I don’t gamble. We have spent 11 days on the road this trip and we have paid for 6 nights, one of which we had a $50 credit. It pays to belong to the hotel clubs. We will be home sometime Sunday.
Presently, I am writing this in my hotel room at the Fairfield Inn (free again tonight) in Lincoln. We have just experienced a severe thunderstorm - thunder – lightening – heavy rain with strong winds which had the rain going horizontally rather than vertically. They said the winds were more than 60 mph. And now it has stopped and it looks almost eerie out there since it is around sunset here. So far, we have been very lucky on this trip. Most of the bad weather has happened at night. Hopefully, it will continue like that. The temperature today was up to 98 according to my car and the TV said the dew point was about 75 degrees. When the temperature and humidity are so high, severe storms pop up in the afternoon and evening. This is normal in the Midwest.

I just went outside because I was sure there was a rainbow and there it was. This feels so weird because it is thundering and lightening and the sun is out and it is raining and there is a very nice rainbow. I stood out there taking pictures and the rain was light. It is now raining much heavier. How strange this is! The sky is now orange and the rain is very hard but the wind isn’t blowing as it was before.

We left Coralville and arrived at the Amana Colonies at around 9:00. We were glad we planned it like this because the day was forecasted to be extremely hot with warnings about the heat. There were a few things I wanted to do and we did them all. First a little about the Amanas. They are a religious group who used to live a very communal life. However, in the mid 1930s, they decided not to continue living communally. They also invented the Amana refrigerators. I believe they sold the Amana electrical products and name to Whirlpool. They are known for their handmade woven products as well as handmade furniture. We actually bought a beautiful woven cotton throw.

First we went to the Visitor’s Center in Amana and got some maps. There are seven small communities but Amana is the largest and has the most places for people to visit. Then we went to the mill and watched some of the looms. We found this very interesting. In all the stores they sell items that are made in Amana as well as other things. I asked and found out that all Amana products are clearly labeled as such. In the furniture store, only the blue tags are Amana produced. I watched a man work in the furniture factory, hand fitting each piece together. One person makes a piece of furniture from start to finish. All the furniture is pure wood. It is really beautiful and expensive. We also went to the smoke house. The cemetery was not easy to find. Each small community has their own cemetery and they don’t put it on the map. I talked to one of the people who belong to the Society and he showed me where I could find it. He also explained that they are buried as was done when they lived communally – according to when they died rather than with their families. Those who are not members of the Amish Society are buried in a separate part of the cemetery. We had wanted to eat lunch there but our timing was off so instead we went to a bakery and had some delicious pastry.

One of the most interesting parts of traveling is meeting people. Today we met a couple about our age from Florida. First we talked with them at the furniture store which also sells some of the most unique cuckoo clocks I have ever seen. We discussed the clocks. Then they walked into the bakery when we were there. They told us they were eating their way across Iowa. Yesterday they went to the Czech area of Cedar Rapids where they ate delicious Czech food. Today they were going to Pella which is a Dutch city in Iowa and they described all the food they would eat. Now, these are my kind of people. The next time I drive through Iowa, I will make sure I can eat a meal in Amana and I will stop in Pella and Cedar Rapids.

Our ride to Lincoln was uneventful. And now we have seen a beautiful and unusual sunset. One day I will post my pictures. Tomorrow we are expecting to get to Denver. One disappointment is that we will not be able to go to the Mint because we didn’t make reservations and they are full for Friday. They have a few stand-by walk-up tickets available but we would have to be there by 7:00 AM and there is no guarantee that we could get in. Therefore, no Mint. So we have not made any hotel reservations and may not stay in Denver. It will depend on what time we get there. It was a very interesting day. For here on, we will just drive home - unless we get distracted by something.
It was a beautiful day today even though I awoke at 4:00 AM. It seems I always wake early the day we are about to embark on another journey. After another wonderful stay with both families and friends, we were ready to head home. Both of us decided we would take the same route as we took coming to Wisconsin but there were some places we wanted to see so we are taking our time going home.

After eating breakfast at Wendy’s house, we left around 6:30 AM heading to Herbert Hoover’s Library and final resting place which is in West Branch, Iowa where he was born. One thing we noticed while driving through Illinois – the lack of rest stops or even any place to use a rest room. After driving about three hours, we luckily saw a McDonalds and stopped to use the facilities and get gas. About 15 miles later, we came to the largest truck stop in the world so we had to stop. Unfortunately, we weren’t ready to eat yet because they had a huge buffet for something like $6.99. The store is enormous and they sell everything you might ever want including a portable microwave. They even have a dentist if you need one. If you are ever on Highway 80, this is a must stop.

Then we went to Hoover’s Library and were pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was. It is in a beautiful setting, built around his boyhood home. Hoover’s parents died and shortly thereafter he was sent to an uncle’s house in Oregon by himself at the ripe old age of 10. Just the other day, we were talking about how much courage it must have taken people to come here from other countries. One of my aunts came alone from England at the age of 18 on a ship to meet her brothers. I can’t imagine sending a child the age of Stephanie on a train alone with some food and clothes in the late 1800s.

Hoover managed to get himself into Stanford and graduate as a mining engineer. He made a fortune, traveled all over the world and did some wonderful humanitarian acts. In my head, I just think of him as the president during the Depression. However, as I read about all he did to help people after World War I, the laws he put into effect while Secretary of Commerce, I realized that he was much more than what I even taught in my history classes. It is true that he made mistakes when handling the economy but, much like Obama, he inherited a nation headed for financial ruin. It happened while he was President but it seems that the wheels were turning under Coolidge’s reign. He also had great difficulty getting Congress to do some of the things he wanted. Does that sound familiar? After leaving office, he again did many humanitarian acts and lived to be 90. He seemed to spend the last part of his life as a respected elder statesman but he is actually remembered as the President during the Great Depression.

We spent over 2 ½ hours there in the Library, walking around looking at the buildings on the land and going to the gravesites. We left and drove the short way to our hotel, the Fairfield Inn in Coralville which is a suburb of Iowa City. I was able to cash in some Marriott points and we got this room free tonight. I think we will also have a free room tomorrow night in Lincoln. Our room is quite nice. By this time we were really hungry so I found that there was a Culvers and I wanted my last frozen custard. We drove to the restaurant and ate a sandwich after which I had a cookie dough custard cone. We decided that Kopps is definitely better and every Culvers we were at before were better than this one. But I liked it anyway. We drove around and looked at the University of Iowa and the old capitol building. When we came back, there were chocolate chip cookies and lemonade in the lobby. We have been relaxing and watching TV. I didn’t have enough energy to put on my swimming suit. They have a nice pool and whirlpool but not for me today.

Tomorrow we will start out with our free breakfast and then on to the Amana Colonies. The weather has been beautiful and the ride was uneventful.
Thunderstorms during the night helped me sleep very well. I have no idea why I sleep well in thunderstorms but I do. I love traveling and hearing the thunder, seeing the lightening (of course from the inside of a nice hotel room) since that hardly ever happens in Los Angeles. We get hard rain but not thunder and lightening. I awoke at 6:00 AM and the storm had passed but I was still tired. I went back to bed and fell asleep not waking until after 8:00. That was much later than usual and I knew we had a long ride today and we also lost an hour. We ate the breakfast at the hotel and left by 9:15. We drove all the way to Des Moines, IA and got here about 6:30 PM. We drove around 550 miles today. A little more on the weather: The humidity was around 6% in Las Vegas and about 18% in Utah. This morning in Nebraska the dew point was 61%. What a difference!

Last night our room cost a grand total of $46 because of the $50 gift card. Tonight we are staying in a Hampton Inn and we got this room free because of points I had accumulated. Gas prices were quite high and just now we are paying about what we paid at Costco before we left. This is much different than last year when all prices across the country were much lower than LA. Maybe gas is more expensive there as well right now.

Once we left Denver, we entered farmland and that is what we will see all the way to Milwaukee. In the past, we chose to take the longer Northern route because the land is much more interesting through Minnesota and South Dakota. However, it takes more time and we just wanted to drive to Milwaukee quickly. Now, because of Sirius radio and our iPhone music, the time passes very quickly even though the land is all farms. We did pass through the famous Bridges of Madison County and John Wayne’s birthplace. Driving through this part of the country one notices smells – usually fertilizer – which permeate the air. Today we drove past the cows. Yes there were numerous cows grazing in the grassy fields but we also went past cows who were in what Bonnie said was a holding pen which was full of manure. These cows were better than the ones we pass in central California where they are packed in and can’t move. The smell and conditions are still horrendous.

We did have quite a heavy storm in Lincoln, Nebraska and a moderate one a bit farther east. Then there was drizzle off and on. We also had quite a bit of construction but it is Sunday so it didn’t slow us down much. We made pretty good time. Tomorrow it looks like severe storms all the way to Milwaukee. We have about 400 miles left.

Last night we had a nice talk with the woman at the desk. Again I like talking to local people. Bonnie upgraded and input all the names and addresses in the GPS. I must admit that I really like our new one. Presently, our car is represented by a beach ball so we go bouncing down the road. It also not only shows the speed limit but how fast I am going – in red when I go faster than the posted speed. There is a lot more and I am happy we got a new one.

We ate lunch at a fast food place called Runza because we knew we didn’t have time to waste. Bonnie had their signature sandwich which is ground beef, spices, onions and cabbage in some kind of rolled bread. We never have to go back there. Tonight we went to Cracker Barrel and I again had their vegetable plate with my kind of vegetables. Enough said about that. I do that once a trip when we go to that restaurant.

This will probably be my last post for a while since we will be in Milwaukee tomorrow. On the trip back to LA I think we will make some other stops but I think we will take the same route. Plans for Milwaukee include having dinner with Wendy’s family tomorrow night to celebrate Jerry’s birthday, a family celebration in honor of Shelby’s 13th birthday, the National Women’s Music Festival in Madison, Summerfest and Bastille Days. Beside that, we will visit with all family members and friends. It will be a busy time. We will be leaving the week of July 13th.

June19 - Utah through Colorado

I believe that Colorado is the most beautiful of the contiguous United States, at least west of Denver. Driving through the Rocky Mountains always amazes me. The trees are so green and we drive right along the river which now is really running. I did see an unusual sign on the road - "Eagles on Highway." I looked and looked and saw no Eagles. Later in the day there was a sign that said we shouldn't pick up hitchhikers because we were near the Correctional Institute. Do you think the eagles hitchhike? Colorado not only is beautiful but they also have many bugs, thousands of which we killed on our windshield.

I awoke very early this morning and had trouble getting back to sleep. The bed was quite hard and the pillows left a lot to be desired. For all the ads Holiday Inn has stating how they have upgraded their hotels, I think they should consider upgrading the mattresses and pillows. The breakfast was very nice. I decided to bring a box of Cheerios with us because I remembered that some of the free breakfasts only had sugared cereals. I was glad I did that so this morning I happily ate my Cheerios and yogurt. You do what you can. After getting gas, we left Green River again at 8:30.

After a while, I decided I was really very tired and so for the first time in our travels for years, I asked Bonnie to drive. We were near Grand Junction. I was really glad I did that because we were going through the most beautiful part of the mountains and I could really look at them - that is in between dozing. I actually couldn’t help myself and I took a few pictures while Bonnie drove. We did climb to a height of 10,600 feet. On one of these trips, I would like to stay in one of the resort areas in the Rockies.

We stopped for lunch in Vail, a place I really enjoy walking through. The setting is beautiful as was the weather. We ate at a place called Pepe’s. Was it Mexican? No. Was it Italian? No. It was German. When Bonnie and I are at home, we mostly have our largest meal at lunch. We decided to do that while driving also. Since this was a German restaurant, I had their specialty – wiener schnitzel and it was fantastic – very thin with a light breading and no grease. YUM. Our lunch took longer than we planned but it was worth it. I was now refreshed having had dozed and eaten so I was going back in the driver’s seat.

We lucked out. My printout said we would have a lot of construction today and we had none. We had planned on going just east of Denver but decided to drive to Sterling, Colorado and stay at a Best Western there. I tried to make the reservation on my phone but I got frustrated doing that so I called them and got the same rate as the AAA rate on the Internet. I wanted to stay at the Best Western, although they never impressed me, because I had a $50 gift card that had to be used before the end of July. I had earned it last year when we stayed at a Best Western twice in a row and I was worried that we wouldn’t use it. We arrived at 5:30. This hotel is nicer than the one yesterday. It has two pools, one indoors and one outdoors but tonight we didn’t go swimming. They say they have a hot tub but it is an above ground one and I had no interest in using it. Anyway, we had to go to Wal-Mart.

I learned today that I had not lost my ability to read maps and signs along the road. I could still figure out our route. How did I come to this revelation? Our GPS is really dead and we got here just fine. Bonnie was very unhappy about the GPS. I knew we could use our phones but she wanted the GPS. This is not the first time we have had trouble with our GPS on the road. Every time we have had trouble with any of them, we have been traveling. Meanwhile, Bonnie did convince me that we should just buy a new one. Her big selling point – the lack of arguments we have while driving. I always want to know how far we are from some place, what is the next town, and much more. With the GPS, I just listen to Jack or look at the screen and I have all my answers. I must admit that I sometimes argue with Jack but I don’t argue with Bonnie so our trips are much more pleasant. So tonight we found a Wal-Mart near our hotel and bought a new GPS – a Garmin 1450T. Hopefully, this will last us a little longer than the last one. Bonnie has spent most the evening setting up the machine with all the addresses. It really appears to be a lot nicer than the old one.

There are some weather advisories tonight and it looks like we will have rain most of the way to Milwaukee. It has started raining here and the sky is very dark. I think we cross into Central time tomorrow so we lose another hour. We have filled up the gas tank so we will be ready to go right after we eat our free breakfast. Our room cost $89 plus $8 tax. This includes breakfast and free wireless. We have a refrigerator so our water and soda gets cold. Then, take off the $50 and tonight’s room cost $47. It pays to belong to the hotel clubs.
Today was just about a perfect day. Driving through some of the most remarkable land in our country while listening to my music is the way I would like to spend the rest of my life. I took no pictures. This time I just let my eyes photograph the images into my brain, rejuvenating my mind, body and soul. I need this to exist and am so thankful I get to do it at least part of the time.

We changed our mind about eating at the Aria before we left since we were not at all hungry. I wonder why. We took our bags to the valet and left Las Vegas at around 8:30 AM. Bonnie and I have fallen into a pattern. I drive and she takes care of the electronics - meaning both our phones and the GPS which she mounts on the window so I can keep glancing at it. It not only shows a cute car driving down the road but also what the speed limit is, how far until we change roads and an approximate time of arrival at our destination. A mile sign mentioned the city of Glendale far enough away that we figured we would be hungry. The GPS also lists restaurants in the area. I had also said that I didn't want to go to any fast food restaurants like McDonalds. So we headed for the Glendale Cafe only to find it boarded up. They were remodeling. The next city was Mesquite and we decided we would have to eat there because it was getting late and the next stop was in Arizona where we refuse to spend any money. Our choices? Three casinos and every fast food place you could think of. We ended up at McDonalds which, although terribly unhealthy, was very cheap and quick as well as not too bad tasting.

Once we entered Arizona, I realized two things: We were now in beautiful country; and Nevada has better roads. From here until the eastern part of Denver, every corner presents more beauty. I never tire of the red rock, the various colors of green in the folliage, the formations of rocks jutting out from everywhere, all with colors from different mineral deposits and the blue of water and the sky.

Then, again, besides the beauty, we do see other not so nice thngs on the road other than road kill. Today we were held up because a recreational vehicle had overturned and broke apart in pieces in the left lane. This appeared to be a rather large trailer. The truck was still upright and nobody seemed to be hurt because they were probably in the truck. But what a mess. The people were trying to gather their belongings with the help of the police. That was our only delay except for some short construction slow-ups but the speed limit is 75 so we really made good time.

We were driving along enjoying life when suddenly the GPS fell off the window. When Bonnie picked it up, she noticed that it hadn't been charging. She thought we would need a new one. I thought we may only need a connector. When we got to the hotel, she connected it to her computer to see if it would charge that way and it worked. Now we know the GPS is fine but the charger isn't. Bonnie thinks we can charge it every night and it would hold the charge during the day. I did print out a route before we left and I marked maps because I like to see where we are going so we are OK even if the GPS doesn't stay charged.

There is about 125 miles where there are no services so we decided we had to eat lunch at Salina, Utah, the western side of that stretch. There was one restaurant listed besides all the usual ones - Mom's Cafe and that is where we went. I love the name and the food was pretty good. I ended up talking to the woman who was running the place. Bonnie and I wondered about who lived in these types of towns. I felt it was people who had been born there. When I gave her my charge card and ID, she noted that I lived in Studio City and said she had been there quite a bit and also to Woodland Hills where her sister lived. I asked her how she came to live in Salina. She said her grandmother lived there and she actually had lived all over because her father was in the army. She started high school in California but finished in Salina. She decided to stay there. She is single and probably around 50. She likes the quiet but takes many trips to LA, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas when she wants more culture or excitement. One of the things I enjoy about being on the road is talking to the people. This also made today a special day.

We noted the we had entered mountain time at the restaurant so we had lost an hour. I mentioned that Bonnie is in charge of electronics. I shouldn't have been surprised that as we were driving along the beautiful highway on June 18, suddenly, out of our radio sound system coming from Bonnie's iPhone was Kate Smith singing Silver Bells and Bonnie is in heaven. She never ceases to amaze me.

We are staying in Green River, Utah at the Holiday Inn Express and it is a pretty nice room. The shower, itself, was better than the one at the Aria although the shower stall at the Aria can hardly be equalled. We have a flat screen HD TV, free wireless Internet, free breakfast and there is a pool and whirlpool. We went into both shortly after arriving at 5:30 MDT. It was very pleasant and gave me a little exercise. One thing about Vegas is that I walk a lot. One thing about driving is that I sit a lot. Luckily this hotel doesn't have a scale but they do have warm, freshly baked cookies in the lobby.

Tomorrow we expect to get somewhere east of Denver but there is a lot of construction so I don't know how far we will get. Today was a wonderful day!


June 17 - Second day in Las Vegas

Another beautiful day in Las Vegas. The temperature was in the 90s while the humidity was 8%. I am glad I am leaving before my skin absolutely dries up and falls off. (Sorry, Barbara, for that visual.) This morning we walked to the Paris for their buffet. After waiting in line for 35 minutes, we were seated. This made us there not only for breakfast but also for lunch. The great thing was that I had enough points on my Player's Card to get this meal free. Actually, Bonnie and I have yet to pay for any food, only tips. The same will be true for dinner tonight. We are going to eat at the cafe here because Bonnie has a food and beverage comp which we haven't used up yet.

After stuffing ourselves, we played some slots. I ended yesterday in the plus side, ahead $25.15. Today was another story. I lost $14.99 at Paris and then we walked over to the Bellagio where I lost $30. I got caught up in a slot machine that was just so much fun that I spent more than I usually do. So, as of this moment, I am now out $19.84. I may play a little more tonight which very well could change that, one way or the other. I usually allow myself $20 a day for gambling. I know, last of the big time spenders. So, using that as my guide, I still have $20 I can lose.

Then we took the tram back to the Aria, changed into our swimming suits and went to that great pool area. There are 3 general pools, one adult party pool which I did not go into, and 3 whirlpools. It was wonderful to go into the water and the whirlpool and just lay out there, reading and looking at my iPhone. After about 2 hours, we came back to the room. I changed and took my camera around the grounds to take pictures. After I finish writing, we are going to dinner.

Tomorrow we leave for Green River, Utah. Great state, that Utah is. Tonight they are killing a man who has been on death row for quite a long time. How are they killing him? By firing squad. Mull that over for a while and remember this is the 21st century. We are also driving through a corner of Arizona but we will not stop and give them any money. And, naturally, we will not buy any gas at BP or Arco.

I did make a reservation at the Holiday Inn Express in Green River. I feel more comfortable knowing we have a fairly nice place to stay. They have most of what I want in a hotel - a heated pool, free wireless and free breakfast and I belong to the Priority Club. Although it won't compare to what we have tonight, it should be acceptable.

I have been getting my exercise. Yesterday I walked 4 miles which is about twice as much as I do on the average at home. Today I have already walked almost 5 miles but the best part is I have accumulated 63 minutes of aerobic walking. I am impressed with myself. The time in Las Vegas has been fine and just long enough. Now on to greener pastures.

Day 1 - June 16 - Las Vegas

After eating breakfast at home, we left at 8:20 this morning. It was a typical June gloom day in Los Angeles which was nice because the sun was not shining in my eyes. By the time we entered the I 15, the sun was out and it was beautiful. We had no traffic to speak of and made pretty good time - a little under 4 hours including 2 short stops. The weather in Las Vegas is quite warm, in the 90s, but it is very windy which makes it quite bearable. It is also extremely dry.

We are staying at the Aria and I was quite excited. We were scheduled to come here in January but I had to have those stents inserted and so the trip was delayed. We did get here in February but there were no free rooms at the Aria on the weekend since it was Super Bowl so I did want to come again and stay here. Bonnie and Jodi had stayed and told me it was an electronic wonder. The room is very nice, about average for a high-end hotel. Everything works with remotes. We can even hook up our iPhones and play our music through the sound system. The bathroom is spectacular with an extremely large walk in shower and soaking tub. I enjoyed using that shower tonight.

For the first time that I can remember, we had them take our bags to the room. We have 5 bags - 2 small suitcases for our clothes, 2 backpacks for other various things like books, meds, shoes and such and of course our computer bag for our two computers. We have taken to using valet since it is sometimes hard for me to walk distances. So, we checked in and got this beautiful free room for two nights. They had booked us for three but two was all I wanted. They kept our bags while we went to eat lunch at the buffet. I haven't eaten so much in months and it was very good. I especially liked the shrimp which were huge and peeled as well as the king crab legs. I must also mention a dessert called an espresso shooter that is just fantastic.

After lunch and a short walk-through of the hotel especially looking at the three pools, we came back to the room and I played with all the buttons turning on and off the lights, closing and opening the drapes, putting on the music just to name a few. Bonnie called down to have our bags delivered. Not only did he come in less than 10 minutes but he also brought ice which was very nice. We still had not spent a dime gambling so it was time to venture out.

Bonnie played a little at the Aria and then we walked over to the Monte Carlo. I left the Monte Carlo 4 cents richer. I was on a roll. We then walked over to New York New York. I play only penny machines that have no more than 30 lines since I do believe in playing all the lines. So the most I spend is 30 cents a time, usually putting in $5. I sat down at a machine called Invasion from Planet Moolah. I only like machines that have some sort of game involved. Otherwise I get bored. So I put in my $5 and played a couple of times and ended up winning $35.10. Not bad for a 25 cent investment. While I was watching Bonnie play, a woman came around offering massages while one plays the slots. That I have never seen before. Neither of us took her up on it. By the time I came up to the room, I came away $25.15 richer than I was when I got here. Now I know I won't lose anything because I will not spend more than that tomorrow on gambling. I enjoy gambling but I hate to lose money. It seems like such a waste to me so I gamble very little.

Las Vegas is not one of my favorite places to come. There always has to be a reason other than gambling to get me here, even with free rooms. This time was that we were driving through on our way to Wisconsin and I got to stay in the Aria. Last time we got free tickets to see the Eagles and that was great.

Our flexible plan for tomorrow is to go to the Paris for breakfast. Then we will do some gambling there and come back here to enjoy the pools. I look forward to that. Pictures will follow probably tomorrow.